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Representing the Allen High FFA Chapter during a recent workday at the Allen Community Outreach center were (from left) Debbie Bush, Sheila Cummings, Jake Barnes, Katarina Payton and Marquita Huland. / Photo courtesy of AHS Future Farmers of America
From staff reports
Allen Public Library receives generous grant from The Friends of the Library
The Allen Public Library has received funding from The Friends of the Allen Public Library to upgrade its Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) system. This funding is made possible through the Friends from a $50,000 grant it received from The Eugene McDermott Foundation. A check was presented to Library Director Jeff Timbs by Friends President Susan Jackson on Dec. 10.
The new system will track and secure library inventory and enable efficient check-in, check-out, and hold fulfillment of library materials. The current self-check stations will be replaced as part of the upgrade.
Upon receipt of the check, Jeff Timbs said, "On behalf of the Library, I am deeply grateful for the Foundation's generosity. Their gift will enable the Library to further its continuing commitment to customer service, enhance the quality of life in the Allen community, and remain a vibrant 21st century public library."
The RFID system upgrade is scheduled to be completed by June 1.
Two ways to 'Give where you live' with ACO's holiday drives
Each year, all five stations of the Allen Fire Department are the drop-off points for Allen Community Outreach's "Toys for OUR Tots" (not to be confused with the Toys for Tots campaign). The toys collected at the stations go to families in Allen and neighboring communities that sign up for assistance. All items must be new and unwrapped and may also be dropped off at Allen Community Outreach.
Also, there's still time to adopt a child, teen or senior and make sure they have warm clothes, shoes, bedding and other necessities this Christmas. Stocking stuffers are also needed for teens and seniors - such as gift cards, make-up, cologne, cookie tins, blankets, gloves and hats - and wrapping paper and tape. New bikes and helmets for all ages are also needed.
Donors for the holiday adoption program must sign up with ACO to be matched with a recipient and obtain other information, which includes a special drop-off location. Last year, more than 500 individuals were helped through ACO's Christmas Adoption Program.
Items for either holiday drive must be dropped off by Dec. 15. Allen Community Outreach is at 801 E. Main St. For information, call 972-727-9131 or visit www.acocares.org/
Toys for troops
Bring new, unwrapped toys or clothes to Watters Creek for "Operation Once in a Lifetime," to benefit military service members who need assistance providing a good Christmas for their kids. U.S. soldiers in uniform will collect the toys on Dec. 16.
In 2010, the program's first year, OOIAL raised more than $35,000 in toys and distributed them to more than 500 military families and more than 900 military children.
Watters Creek is at 970 Garden Park Drive in Allen. For information, visit watterscreek.com or www.operationonceinalifetime.com.
Salvation Army offers smartphone giving, Online Red Kettle
This holiday season, The Salvation Army will give people a new way to donate to its traditional red kettles at more than 400 locations across the DFW area. Through Christmas Eve, the red kettle stands will display two QR codes - one for a $5 donation and one for a $10 donation - that can be made by scanning the codes with a smartphone.
Also through Dec. 24, in a convenient way to make a community impact without leaving the comfort of home, anyone can raise donations for The Salvation Army by setting up their own Online Red Kettle at onlineredkettle.org.
Unwrapping the history of Christmas in America
For many, Christmas means traditions like decking the halls, trimming the tree, hanging the stockings, and taking the kids to visit Santa Claus. But is Christmas sacred or secular? Pagan or Christian? A commercial event or a season of hope?
Dr. Penne Restad will discuss these cherished traditions and rituals at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Allen Public Library. Restad is professor of history and distinguished lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the 1995 book, "Christmas in America: A History."
This free event is sponsored by the APL and the Friends of the Library. The Allen Public Library is at 300 N. Allen Drive. Call 214-509-4900 for information.
It's a SNAP-py holiday dance
Come SNAP your fingers and shuffle your feet at the city of Allen's Special Needs Adapted Program. Dances feature live music, a fun and creative theme, snacks and a commemorative photo that is mailed to each participant's home.
The Friday, Dec. 14, Holiday Party dance will be from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Recreation Hall, 105 S. Anna Drive. Cost is $15. For complete information or to get on the email distribution list for dance reminders, email email@example.com or call 214-509-4707.
Pass the syrup! Allen High School FFA hosts 2nd annual pancake breakfast
The Allen High School FFA Chapter will host its second annual Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Allen High School Cafeteria, 300 Rivercrest Blvd., from 8:30 to 11 a.m.
Tickets are $5 and include a picture with Santa. Attendees are asked to bring a food donation for the ACO and they will receive a free photo with Santa.
Ad spaces are available for any business wanting to identify with the AHS FFA cause. For information, go to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Christmas carols began: a history in story, song and music
Choirs and carolers, church bells and jingle bells - music has always been a part of Christmas. But have those customs always been followed? What were the sounds of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and how did today's carols evolve?
Prepare for a musical journey through milieus of the earliest Christmas music to the beginnings of today's familiar carols at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Allen Public Library.
Dr. Phyllis Tippit, writer and narrator for the evening, became interested in the early history of Christian music during her studies of the Psalms, the hymnbook of Jews and Christians for 3,000 years. As a lecturer at Baylor University, she taught Old Testament, ethics, and world cultures until retiring in 2011.
Dennis Brown, pianist and musical director, became interested in ancient Christmas music while doing research for a national television program, "Life Lessons with Ron Hembree." He has served as minister of music, organist and choir director in several churches, featured on television numerous times, and has played for audiences in 34 states and in Canada.
Brown and Tippit are also choir members at Church of the Savior, the Episcopal Church of Allen.
On vocals will be Janis Roscoe Stillings, actress, singer and dancer who has performed in New York City, Hawaii and Dallas; Jessica Parker, senior chorister for the Royal School of Music; and Cynthia Burns, choir director at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in McKinney. Other singers in the group are Sue Brown, Kevin Housh, Jennifer Milner, Brian Milner, Steven Shayle Rhodes and Teri Tippit. On cello is Kathy Decker.
Visit allenlibrary.org or call 214-509-4911 for information.
Photos with 'The Big Guy'
The Big Guy can once again be found inside the warmth and comfort of a Real Bookstore at The Village at Fairview. Visiting hours are: Dec. 13: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Dec. 14-23: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Dec. 24: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. "The Big Guy" takes a break from 3-4 p.m. daily.
Shoppers may reserve a spot in the "virtual line" via website, via text message, or in person at the photo set. Once people are in the queue, they are given a return time so they can do some shopping or grab a bite to eat while they wait to visit The Big Guy. Text "SANTA" to 775-200-XMAS (9627), visit www.thevillageshopping.com, or stop by a Real Bookstore at 113 Prairie Road to reserve a place in the virtual line.
Free trolley rides, horse-drawn carriage rides
All aboard! Join us every Friday and Saturday in December and Dec. 17-22 for a magical trolley ride around Watters Creek while taking in the spectacular holiday lights. Rides are free and on a first-come, first-served basis, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., weather permitting.
And what could be more charming than a cozy horse-drawn carriage ride through streets adorned with twinkling holiday decorations on a crisp winter evening? Bring the family or that someone special for a horse-drawn carriage ride around Watters Creek, 970 Garden Park Drive.
Carriages hold up to six passengers and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Pick up is across the street from DSW. Rides are available, weather permitting, between 6 and 9 p.m. Dec. 14, 15, and 17-22; check with the concierge at 972-747-8000.
Free photos with Santa at Watters Creek
Watters Creek offers free visits with Santa for families to come have the opportunity to take their own photos at no charge. Times are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 15 and 19-24; and noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 23.
Santa's workshop is across from The Blue Fish and Paciugo at Watters Creek, 970 Garden Park Drive. For information, visit watterscreek.com.
Holiday film classics conclude Tuesday
Bring the family to the Allen Public Library's Civic Auditorium and take in a terrific seasonal classic at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, with the 1951 classic, "A Christmas Carol."
A bitter miser is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by uninvited ghosts on Christmas Eve. This adaptation is thought to be one of the definitive films of the story, and Alastair Sims' performance as a man who is malevolent and later humorous is a holiday gift.
Admission to the screening is free. For information, call Tom Keener 214-509-4911.
Winter reading clubs under way
Children and teens can stop by the library and pick up their reading logs now for the Allen Public Library's winter reading clubs.
Teens ages 12-18 who read three books before Jan. 13 will earn a free book and be entered into a prize drawing for $25 gift cards to Cinemark, GameStop or Starbucks.
Kids ages 0-11, come "Soar with Books!" Younger readers who read 10 picture books or easy readers - and older readers who read three or more chapter books or non-fiction books - will get a free book when they return their reading logs by Jan. 13.
Test-prep tool available through APL
Studying for the SATs? GREs? GED? Or another standardized test? LearningExpress Library can help.
LearningExpress Library contains practice tests, exercises, skill-building courses, ebooks and more. Call 214-509-4905 for login/password. Visit allenlibrary.org for information.
Weekly 6 a.m. social run
Gather at Luke's Locker every Thursday morning at 6 a.m. for a 45-minute social run. Out and back run, for all levels, bagels and coffee after at the store. Visit http://www.watterscreek.com/ for information.
Kaleidoscope of Dreams Light Show
Through Jan. 4 every night from 5-9 p.m., come see one of the largest holiday light shows in North Texas, with 250,000 sparking LED lights. The Village at Fairview, Macy's Fountain entrance.
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